Okay here is my take on NFIP reform efforts! THERE WILL BE NO REFORM THIS YEAR BUT A LENGTHY EXTENSION of the NFIP perhaps for 5 years. This is the fifth time in the 42 year history of the NFIP that reforms to improve the NFIP's policies and administration by statutory change will have been undercut by the programs lack of preparedness to take long-term advantage of congressional interest. The basic problem of course is that the NFIP is a land use not an insurance program.
My basic reform proposal that would infuriate the Banking Committees and would be to confine insurance availability to the 1% annual occurrence floodplain (the so-called 100 year base flood)!
THE REASON THE BANKING COMMITTEES SHOULD NOT BE THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEES FOR THE NFIP IN CONGRESS IS THAT THEIR POLITICAL PRESSURE AND CONSTANT MANIPULATION OF THE PROGRAM TO PROMOTE THE BANKING AND HOUSING SECTORS AND LAND DEVELOPERS AND BUILDERS OPERATING IN HAZARDOUS AREAS HAS UNDERMINED THE PROGRAM AND THIS YEARS LEGISLATION WILL PROVE THIS CONCLUSION AGAIN.
W. Craig Fugate did pretty well in his House and Senate testimony but the NFIP is too counter intuitive a program to allow even someone with Administrator Fugate's background and knowledge to present the Congress with real choices. And clearly he is making legal issues out of many policy decisions that could be made under current law, probably in a decision to push accountability elsewhere as he constantly did in his Senate presentation where he often stated it was up to Congress to decide. He did not make recommendations in most instances as to what they should decide or even why their decision was necessary.
So while a long extension is helpful only very skilled and competent leadership of the NFIP and even WH level interest can save it from eventual elimination in the favor of "free" disaster relief with no mapping most if not all legislative changes this year in the Congress will undermine program solvency and result in increased disaster outlays.
Another key recommendation is to put not another insurance lawyer in charge of the NFIP but a STATE Flood Plain Manager.
For the Congress two new findings to the ones that already exist should be added.
First, mapping is the principal compliance tool of the NFIP!
Second, that the NFIP should cooperate, and collaborate to the extent possible with the Endangered Species Act of 1973!
One major error could be increasing the limits of coverage! This should be veto bait if the WH and FEMA understand the program!